Launched by avid biker Liu Erxi, Guangzhou’s only 24-hour bookstore also doubles as a hostel. It’s located in the Tianhe district, and is the perfect spot to unwind after a long day of exploration. In addition to an impressive selection of Chinese-language books, there are drinks and desserts in the café, and even basic lodgings in private rooms for those looking for a unique experience – at night, the sofa beds in the reading room are folded out and are available upon reservation.
27 Tiyu East Road, Tianhe District
2. Bai Yi Xuan Antique Shop
Xiguan copperware pots or teapots are quite possibly the best souvenirs to bring back from Guangzhou. They are also often seen as representative of the old city of Canton and have been officially recognised as a symbol of local cultural heritage. This small, unassuming shop has been run and curated by four generations of craftsmen, each selling skilfully handcrafted wares known for their quality and stunning designs. It offers an outstanding selection of teapots, as well as other copperware kitchen items, such as bowls, cooking pots, water jugs and mugs. You can even find a large copper statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong near the store’s entrance.
218 Enning Rd, Liwan District
“Guangzhou is such a vibrant and lively city, with many hidden gems and trendy areas. People should definitely visit with a sense of adventure and curiosity” — Kara Schroeder, founder and CEO of lifestyle website Bunga Monkey
3. Kui Yuan Gallery
This art-gallery-slash-café is located in a 1920s building within Guangzhou’s historic Dongshankou. You can view ever-changing exhibitions from both foreign and local names – such as popular young Guangzhou artist Liu Bin – sip on absinthe or enjoy a cup of joe on one of the balconies or at a ground-level patio area. With the closure of the city’s iconic art district Redtory in late 2019, Kui Yuan Gallery is now among the top places to view art in the city. In early February, visitors can check out “The Echo of Clay”, an exhibition of ceramic works by six artists who have all utilised their differing educational backgrounds to explore an impressive array of methods.
9 Xuguyuan Rd, Yuexiu District
Yangji neighbourhood is now home to what is arguably the city’s first gin-focused bar. In addition to an excellent gin selection, there is also a range of outstanding craft cocktails – strongly recommended is the Manor House, which is made with olive-oil-infused gin, Mediterranean cordial, Mancino Secco vermouth, Capri dry tonic and olive brine. The establishment has a chic, elegantly designed interior, with three seating areas – one being upstairs – and a well-curated playlist.
5. Qiuda 6 Zaiji
With a jovial and boisterous atmosphere characteristic of popular dim sum shops, this is one of the best spots in the city to indulge in this famous cuisine. Chef Qiu Weiguo serves up an array of dishes that run the gamut from traditional to experimental. The xiaolongbao (steamed dumpling filled with pork and soup) are exemplary, as are the xiajiao (steamed shrimp and pork dumpling) and the more unusual lamb-filled shaomai (dumpling traditionally made with pork, shrimp and mushrooms). The stellar danmai chashao bao sees the traditional mantou (steamed bun) shell replaced with a crisp, flaky bread similar to a croissant – a quirky Paris-meets-Canton fusion dish that is a must-order. The restaurant’s newest location in Yuexiu district offers diners incredible river views too.
Yangguangcheng, 7/F, Jiangwan Commercial Center, 298 Yanjiang Zhong Lu, Yuexiu District
What’s going on in February
Lantern Festival (8 February)
As the climax of the Chinese New Year festivities, friends and family gather to light lanterns, moongaze and eat sweet rice balls. Visit Yuexiu Park to witness cultural performances and wander among the art installations that are illuminated come nightfall.
The Past of Shawan (6 to 7 March)
Set in 1930s Shawan, a village in Guangzhou’s Panyu district, this show interprets legendary tales through dance routines. It is a vivid artistic introduction to times long past in the region.
Singapore Airlines flies to Guangzhou daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine